Last week, the FDA approved a long-used HIV-fighting medication, Truvada, as a new HIV prevention tool. This is a major shift toward the medicalization of HIV prevention, and it uncovers a big dilemma in stopping the spread of HIV.

In the near future, certain people at high risk of HIV may be able to procure a prescription for this medication through their medical provider. Taken daily, this HIV medication may reduce some individuals’ risk of HIV infection by as much as 90%. This is a tremendous benefit to those at risk, but it is not without challenge. A major obstacle for many is that, as with HIV treatment for those who are HIV-positive, this medication must be taken daily. That may not be feasible for some. Additionally, the medication is tremendously expensive, and we are unsure at this point which insurance companies may or may not be willing to pay for this preventive medication. Lastly, the real benefit of this medication lies within the context of other HIV prevention methods, such as routine HIV testing and condom or other barrier use.

That said, for those at risk of HIV infection who are appropriate candidates for the prescription, and who can get the medication paid for, this may be a life-saving HIV prevention tool. As we learn more about this, and how it can be implemented in Vermont, we will post more information about it and keep you updated. In the meantime, we recommend you speak with your medical provider if you have more specific questions about whether this is a good fit for you as CDC and other medical officials figure out how to launch this program.

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